Growing Fire Threat (31st day of 90+ tomorrow; is climate change delaying fall foliage peak color?)
- Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
- September 9, 2012 - 11:28 PM
75 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
75 F. average high for September 9.
90 F. high on September 9, 2011.
Red Flag Warning posted for the southwestern third of Minnesota for a heightened risk of fast-moving brushfires into Tuesday.
Wednesday PM into Thursday: next chance of rain in the metro area. Some .25 to .50" amounts are possible.
"Studies in Europe and Japan have found that leaves are changing color later that usual, and new research by U.S. scientists is coming up with similar results..." - from a story at northjersey.com below.
...RED FLAG WARNING ACROSS WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY... .ON MONDAY...STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS GUSTING OVER 30 MPH WILL DEVELOP ACROSS WESTERN AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA BETWEEN RETREATING HIGH PRESSURE TO THE EAST AND A COLD FRONT ADVANCING INTO THE DAKOTAS. TEMPERATURES WARMING INTO THE 80S WILL ASSIST IN PRODUCING MINIMUM RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES NEAR 20 PERCENT AS THE WINDS INCREASE. THE COMBINATION OF DRY FUELS...STRONG WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY...WILL RESULT IN DANGEROUS WILDFIRE CONDITIONS. A RED FLAG WARNING IS IN EFFECT ALONG AND SOUTHWEST OF A LINE FROM ALEXANDRIA...THROUGH WILLMAR AND MANKATO...DOWN TO ALBERT LEA. WHILE THERE WILL BE A BRIEF BREAK IN THE FIRE DANGER ON MONDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY TUESDAY AS WINDS DECREASE AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY INCREASES DURING THE OVERNIGHT HOURS... DANGEROUS FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL REDEVELOP ON TUESDAY ACROSS SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. TEMPERATURES WILL HEAT UP TO BETWEEN 90 AND 95 DEGREES UNDER THE CONTINUED INFLUENCE OF STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS. RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES WILL FALL TO NEAR 20 PERCENT AGAIN AND RESULT IN HIGH FIRE DANGER CONDITIONS. A COLD FRONT IS EXPECTED TO ENTER WESTERN MINNESOTA ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON. THE ARRIVAL OF THE FRONT AND DECREASING WINDS COULD REDUCE THE FIRE DANGER ACROSS WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA EARLIER ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON.
Today's Weather Map. The WRF model (valid 4 pm today) shows dry weather over the eastern 2/3rds of America, showers and T-storms confined to south Florida. Monsoon thunderstorms are likely over the southwestern U.S., more flash flooding possible from near San Diego to Phoenix, showery rains pushing into Seattle and Tacoma.
Summery Start - Autumny by Midweek. The ECMWF model also shows highs at or above 90 Tuesday, followed by a midweek cooling trend, light rain possibly by Wednesday. We cool off the latter half of the week (upper 60s to near 70), followed by yet another weekend of sunshine and 70s (80 possible next Sunday). More significant rian is predicted by Monday of next week. I hope the models are right.
Twin Cities Winter Snowfalls. The Winter of 1933-34 brought only 25.6" of snow, while the winter following the blazing summer of 1988 saw 70.1". I suspect this upcoming winter will fall somewhere in-between. How's that for going out on a limb. 120 years of snowfall records for KMSP from the National Weather Service.
Tracking Leslie. Doppler radar out of Bermuda showed Tropical Storm Leslie's ragged eye passing 100-200 miles east of the island; some of the spiral bands lashing Bermuda with torrential rains and wind gusting close to 60 mph.
Leslie's Track. Tropical Storm Leslie is still...a tropical storm. The predicted strengthening hasn't taken place, and at this point, with increasing wind shear, Leslie may not re-strengthen to hurricane status. The storm is forecast to reach Prince Edward Island, Canada by late Tuesday as a tropical storm. Map: Ham Weather.
Hurricane Isaac Was The "Perfect" Storm. Coastal residents need to focus more on the forward speed of a storm, vs. the category (wind speed). A stalled Category 1 can be far more damaging, a much more prodigous rain-maker, than a fast-moving Category 3. Details from the shreveporttimes.com: "Exhausted and overwhelmed, Plaquemines Parish residents on both sides of the Mississippi River were struggling last week to come to grips with Isaac's aftermath — and the lengthy recovery ahead. Hundreds can't live in their homes. Of those that can, most don't have electricity. Communities are littered with carrion, including the carcasses of as many as 1,000 cattle.The parish, split into east and west banks by the Mississippi, bore the brunt of the hurricane's fury. The storm surge overwhelmed "back" levees, rushed into communities and quickly filled homes with as much as 17 feet of water."
Photo credit above: "A car and lawn are covered in marsh grass after floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac receded in Braithwaite, La., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. Isaac hit southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi last week, causing severe flooding and seven deaths." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Hurricane Isaac Was No Katrina, But The Stubborn Storm Is This Generation's "Betsy". As I've been saying for weeks now, the Saffir Simpson Scale (1-5 rating for hurricanes) can be very misleading. Some of the worst flooding and loss of life has come from Category 1's and tropical storms. An interesting story from NOLA.com; here's an excerpt: "It has taken a while to sink in, but Hurricane Isaac, which New Orleans sized up as a minimal hurricane not worth running from, has turned out to be the region's new Hurricane Betsy, the storm that two generations before Hurricane Katrina was regarded as the local gold standard for punishing storms. Katrina, of course, is in a class by itself. But before Katrina. it was Betsy that dominated memories as a storm of life-changing power. Betsy struck 47 years ago on Monday, killing 81 people and flooding parts of Gentilly, eastern New Orleans, Arabi and Plaquemines Parish."
Photo credit above: "This aerial photo shows flooded homes and citrus orchards in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in Plaquemines Parish, La., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
NASA Flies Global Hawk Over Hurricane Leslie. This is new - using drones to prove hurricanes and tropical storms, military technology trickling down into the private sector to get information that would be difficult or impossible with conventional Hurricane Hunter aircraft and "dropsondes", tiny, parachute-like instruments dropped into hurricanes. More details from redorbit.com: "NASA has launched the part of its Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission designed to study hurricanes in the field this week with the program’s first flight of an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft over Hurricane Leslie in the Atlantic Ocean. The research drone took off from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California Thursday and landed at the federal agency’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., on Friday after spending 10 hours in the air collecting data on the Category 1 storm. Last week’s flight is the first of two scheduled flights for the program this month. The first Global Hawk carried a payload of instruments dedicated to measuring the environment during the storm."
Photo credit above: NASA/Tony Landis
A Look At Tornadoes That Have Hit Major Cities. Here's a timely article from The Associated Press and knoe.com: "Two tornadoes touched down at the edge of New York City on Saturday. No serious injuries were reported. Once exceedingly rare in New York, tornadoes have occurred with regularity in recent years. A small tornado uprooted trees on Long Island last month. In 2011, a fast-moving storm during the city's evening rush hour spawned two destructive tornadoes and a fierce macroburst with wind speeds up to 125 mph that barreled across the city's Brooklyn and Queens sections. A woman in a car who had just swapped seats with her husband was killed. A September storm in 2010 spawned two tornadoes that knocked down thousands of trees and blew off a few rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens. A small tornado struck the same year in the Bronx. In 2007, a more powerful tornado damaged homes in Brooklyn and Staten Island..."
* YouTube video above courtesy of Joe FitzGerald.
Cold Air Funnels. Ben Johnson captured this photo of non super-cellular funnels over Soldier Field in Chicago. I wonder if Bears fans even noticed?
First Flakes. Here's a photo from Denali National Park and Preserve: "A view from the Savage River check station during today's snowy weather."
"Children Succeed" With Character, Not Test Scores. Here's an excerpt from an NPR story that caught my eye: "A child's success can't be measured in IQ scores, standardized tests or vocabulary quizzes, says author Paul Tough. Success, he argues, is about how young people build character. Tough explores his idea in his new book, "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character." "For some people, (the) path to college is so easy that they can get out into life and they've never really been challenged," he tells NPR's David Greene. "I think they get into their 20s and 30s and they really feel lost - they feel like they never had those character-building experiences as adolescents, as kids, that really make a difference when they get to adulthood."
Flawless September Sunday. Yesterday was something out of a postcard from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. It was perfect, and yes, I'm editorializing. Under a blue sky the mercury rose to 67 at International Falls, 75 St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, 76 at Redwood Falls.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Warm sun, low humidity. Dew point: 43. Winds: S 15-30. High: 83
MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and mild. Low: 68
TUESDAY: Last 90? Windy and hot. Winds: S 25+. High: 93
WEDNESDAY: AM sun, then increasing clouds. Late-day shower? Cooler. Low: 65. High: 73
THURSDAY: Clouds, showers far south. Low: 57. High: 68
FRIDAY: Clouds linger, stray shower (east). Low: 52. High: 67
SATURDAY: Lukewarm sun, very nice. Low: 53. High: 75
SUNDAY: Sunny, heating up again. Low: 59. High: 81
* Long range guidance is hinting at a more significant cold front next week.
Minnesota's pioneers braved the elements without the luxuries of central air, Thinsulate and heated car seats. They tolerated blizzards, tornadoes and floods, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the source of greatest dread was fire.
As many as half of all brushfires a century ago started from errant sparks along the railroads; an estimated 800 people may have perished in one horrific blaze in Hinckley, in 1894.
The risk of deadly conflagrations has come down, thanks to military-precision air drops of fire retardant and bulldozer brigades, but some threat remains.
A combination of deepening drought, gusty winds and tinder-dry humidity has forecasters concerned, especially tomorrow, when highs top 90F, for the 31st day this year. A Red Flag Warning for southwest Minnesota means fires may spread rapidly, with little warning.
We cool off by midweek, enough rain to settle the dust late Wednesday & Thursday. It won't be enough; the biggest puddles staying south & east of MSP.
Lukewarm 70s return next weekend. Soak it up because long range models shows a REAL cold front next week. The sun is as high in the sky as it was March 31.
Yep, almost time to dig out the jackets.
* photo above courtesy of the DNR.
Studies in Europe and Japan have found that leaves are changing color later that usual, and new research by U.S. scientists is coming up with similar results:
- In New Hampshire, data collected at the federal Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in Woodstock suggest that sugar maples are going dormant two to five days later than they were two decades ago."
Photo credit above: Stephen Goodhue - Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. "Despite recent erratic weather, Vermont offers classic New England foliage scenes. Some scientists fear that changes in the weather will affect maple leaves' signature red."
Pay No Attention To The Elephant: The Conventions And The Climate. Huffington Post has the story - here's a snippet: "Let's see now. What has happened in the last two weeks? Both major political parties held their quadrennial national conventions, each of which was disrupted by weather unanticipated by convention planners. Neither party emphasized climate change. Nor did the hordes of media types in attendance, who essentially ignored it in favor of the usual back-and-forth. And, oh yes, the once deeply ice-capped Arctic Sea turned into a giant slushy at the top of the world. At least President Barack Obama mentioned climate change as a serious issue. Which is not to say that Mitt Romney didn't mention it, too. As a joke."
Image credit above: "NASA says that Arctic Sea ice has reached a record low that is going lower."
© 2013 Star Tribune